209: 11 Life Values in Creativity & Life Optimization


“Follow your feels.”
Nick Onken

Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio) — the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey.

Today, we’ve got something slightly different. I want to share 11 excellent life-optimization hacks that have helped me out over the last few years to access my creativity. Not only that, each has been instrumental in helping me live a better life and feel good. I’ve been disciplined about learning what techniques there are and figuring out what works for me over the last couple of years. 

It’s important to realize that not everything I share will work for you, but these 11 optimization hacks can start your journey. I’m excited to share them, so let’s get into this episode!

  1. Personal Development

There was a time my business was failing, so I decided to enroll in the Mastery In Transformational Training (MITT) that my friend Lewis Howes introduced me to. It focuses on teaching about living in possibility and how our negative thoughts construct limiting beliefs. Once I understood the limiting beliefs creating my life, I could break free and build new beliefs that have been game-changers for the last few years. 

Interviewing hundreds of guests on this podcast has shown me that any form of success starts with mindset — I can safely suggest that this is a great place to start.

Not all beliefs are conscious, though, and through my emotional intelligence leadership course, I learned that the subconscious mind makes up 95% of our beliefs while the conscious mind represents only 5%! Traumas and belief systems are embedded in the subconscious, so utilizing tools like psychedelics such as psilocybin and ketamine to navigate the subconscious — to rewire the subconscious — can be tremendously advantageous. 

It’s on the rise, and people are using psychedelics for therapy to treat depression, PTSD, and addiction. I’ve learned the important difference between medicines and drugs — medicines help heal trauma while drugs tend to focus on symptoms. 

Psychedelics can be daunting, but more studies are coming out showing how highly transformative they are, and if you’d like to hear more on the subject, Episode #185 talks about my journey with psychedelics.

  1. Health

Health has been one of the most significant investments I’ve committed to over the last ten years and that I’ve accelerated to optimize my body during the last three years. 

As I get older, I’ve become more in tune with not just how my body looks but, more importantly, how I feel after eating foods like carbs and sugar. To start, I changed my diet to include fewer carbs and sugars. 

It’s important to recognize that everyone’s body works and reacts differently based on our sensitivities to different foods. Eating fewer carbs and sugar is working for me — but you’ve got to investigate what’s good for you and create healthier habits. A documentary that helped shift my perspective, That Sugar Film, shed light on what sugar does to your body. 

The effect of sugar hits home too because my mother has cancer, and sugar feeds cancer. My decision to decrease my sugar intake has become abundantly clear for longevity. It’s taken discipline and new habits, but it’s been hugely rewarding, and I can feel it physically.

Avoiding sugar doesn’t mean sacrificing taste either! If this too feels daunting, listen to Episode #78 with Rocco Dispirito, where we discuss incorporating healthy eating into your lifestyle. 

Supplements have also become a big part of my regime, and after loads of experimenting to feel what worked best I settled on Organifi. When I’m on the road, it’s easy to add their sachets to water and all the nutrients and electrolytes I need. When I’m at home, I have my protein smoothies, which start my day off perfectly. 

To learn more about keeping your immune system healthy, I can recommend listening to Shawn Stevenson’s podcast, The Model Health Show

Another important element is gut health, and I’ve been utilizing a supplement called ion from Dr. Zach Bush. This is a naturally-sourced dietary supplement that promotes a balanced gut, a healthy immune system, and a stronger you, and I love it!

Next, I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting — which means not eating for 14 to 18 hours, so I’ve been eating dinner at around 6 PM, which I’ve found helps me sleep better, and then my next solid meal is at 11 AM. I try to stick to that as much as I can by eating my protein smoothie I linked up above. My favorite protein’s done by my friend Andrew Sealy called Glo vegan, developed with a potent antifungal Lentin protein made from shitake mushroom.

Another product I use is called CoreCumin by Nurish, a super-concentrated micro nano curcumin, which aids in removing inflammation from your body. Another important product they have that helps to detoxify and extract heavy metals from the brain is CogniNurish. If you’d like to give them a try, you can use the code ONC to get 20% off your purchase. 

  1. Movement

Movement has been vital, and I try to integrate it into my life, so every morning I do a 20-minute workout, which is five minutes of a yoga stretch, followed by a 15-minute High-Intensity Training (HIT) workout. 

For the HIT portion, I have different movements that include push-ups, pull-ups, and dumbbells so that even when I’m on the road, I can get it done. I push hard for 45 seconds with a 15-second rest in between. Each exercise will have three sets, and I have five different exercises I rotate to keep it interesting. 

I also love biking around New York City! If I have to run errands or go to meetings, I’ll use my bike as much as I can, which quickly adds up to a 20 or 25-mile ride for cardio.

If I’m not cycling, I’ll walk and listen to audiobooks and podcasts to learn while exercising, which has been another game-changer for me. 

I’m not obsessive about being in the gym and working out — it’s about staying healthy. 

  1. Staying in My Zone of Genius

My zone of genius is creating things — podcasts, taking photographs, making hats, learning how to DJ. Staying creative and building relationships is where I thrive, so I’ve had to learn to delegate things that are not necessarily my cup of tea. 

An example has been switching my shopping to Amazon, so now everything gets shipped directly to me, and there’s no need to spend hours in the store. I know there’s a lot of controversy over this company, but it’s helped me in the delegation space, and I love it. 

  1. Space Curation and Optimization

Optimizing my apartment means it now lives and breeds creativity while aesthetically inspiring me, which helps enforce great habits I want to embody. By consciously creating your space, you program your subconscious to do things daily and enable healthier habits to form. Leaving things on the counter like my supplements so I remember to take them or having a dedicated meditation table gives me that support.

In my office, I have my hat station, my DJ setup, and my desk, all of which is intentionally curated to inspire me and help avoid procrastination. Even during those four months of quarantine, I was happy being in my apartment because it’s set up for me to thrive. 

I love playing music, so I have my home connected to a Sonos sound system to play music throughout my house to drive my creativity.

  1. Sleep Optimization

I’m very disciplined about getting eight hours of sleep and optimizing the quality of those eight hours. I wish I could operate productively off of five or six hours of sleep, but when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m simply sitting at my computer wishing for bed. I’ve noticed what a difference eight hours makes to my mental health and how much better I feel. 

There are a couple of hacks I’ve learned to get better quality sleep. 

That Ooler pad made by Chilisleep is one of the biggest game-changers in my sleep regime. I did a podcast with the founders, Todd and Tara, talking about more of the science of how cooling your system triggers your body into going to sleep. Instead of blasting my entire apartment, the pad runs cooled water through the pad between the mattress and bottom sheet. Now my body is kept at 65 degrees throughout the night — the optimum temperature for restorative sleep. 

I’m also trying a product called Remrise, a sleep vitamin designed to promote deeper restorative sleep without the negative groggy after-effects like most sleeping tablets. Thanks to another important piece of technology, my Oura ring, I can track my sleep each night to see the impact of things like Remrise.

The ring monitors my sleep, calculating total deep sleep, REM sleep, and light sleep as well as tracking my fitness and providing me with data about my overall readiness. 

Cutting alcohol consumption has also been a considerable contributor to optimizing sleep. If I do drink, I have a cocktail around 5 PM so my body has plenty of time to metabolize it before I go to bed. 

Travelling can be disruptive to my sleep schedule, so I use a product called NuCalm, which is a biosignal auditory bio-hack that plays frequencies through the app and has a bio-cycle disc that goes on your left wrist acupuncture point. It does a great job of dropping you into a deep restorative restful state.

  1. Mental Health

I’ve already spoken about how vital sleep has been to ensure I start the day optimally. 

Meditation is another practice I use to help with my mind. I do a Vedic style of meditation, which de-stresses the body and helps remove negative thoughts so they’re not sitting in my body. I do that every morning for at least 20 minutes, which definitely helped during the past 18 months where COVID added extra layers of stress.

Another practice that I’ve been implementing is gratitude.  Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has, and practicing it every day has become one of my most effective tools to shift my state of being. There’s a book called The Magic by Rhonda Byrne where you read a chapter a day for a month and learn different gratitude practices.

Finally, I have a wellness station in my living room for meditation. I have a “magic” table to aid this process with Copal to burn, candles, and books — I even have oracle cards from Kim Kranz on there! 

  1. Community

We are the sum of the five people we hang out with the most — be careful and intentional about who you’re spending time. Are they pushing you towards greatness, or are they toxic? Do they create drama and drag you down? These are important distinctions to understand as part of determining if someone is helping you get to where you want to be.

A great way to find people is to seek communities or wellness events that support the direction you want your life to go. 

Another important lesson is learning to set boundaries with people, even with family, to help you eliminate toxic people from your life. If they’re dragging you down or creating drama, your mental health and wellbeing depends on setting boundaries.

  1. Hydration

I’ve been learning from my friend Tracy Duhs on how to optimize hydration. She has a fantastic podcast called Hydrate I can highly recommend. To purify my water, I use a water filtration system called AquaTru water filter

I’ve also started adding chlorella, lime juice, and chia seeds to my water. One of the benefits of this is that they act as an excellent delivery system for hydration in the body.

If I’m travelling, I use sachets from LMNT to provide all the sodium-based electrolytes I need. 

  1. Media Intake

I could put this under mental health, but in my view, it’s something that needs extra attention. We’re so unaware of the media and how they profit from your fear, which is why it’s essential to understand that they will post news stories that trigger anxiety within you.

Fear is a commodity these days, and fear drives media outlets’ behavior. We get addicted to drama, which is incredibly unhealthy. I’ve found that reducing the amount of news I watch and curating things like my Instagram feed by following uplifting people inspires me now instead of triggering fear and anxiety.

I recommend watching an excellent documentary called The Social Dilemma on Netflix, which talks about how algorithms are specifically designed to feed us more of what we click on. 

  1. Personal Creative Projects

This final life value is all about playing, having fun, and getting into a flow state. Doing what’s fun doesn’t have to cost money~ It’s about seeking opportunities to try new mediums if you’re an artist. Or if you’re not an artist yet, try and play with art wherever your creativity takes you.

I’ve been a photographer for almost 20 years, but I’ve explored other mediums like painting murals and making hats — now I’m learning how to DJ! It’s all fun and keeps my creativity flowing as I learn new things. 

There is no right or wrong; simply follow what makes you feel expansive and do more of that. Start focusing on creating more than you consume. 

11 Life Values and Identity Alchemy

I hope you found some wisdom that resonated within these 11 life values to start creating your formula for Identity Alchemy.

Discovering who we are and expressing that with courage and clarity is a journey we are all on together. My list of 11 life values is just from the last ten years, and even now, I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. While discovering all of this takes time, I wouldn’t change it for the world because everything I am today is because of my curiosity to alchemize my identity.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. Thus, I define Identity Alchemy as the process of deconstructing who you don’t want to be, thereby allowing you to realize who you want to become. 

I believe that the deconstruction process of your inner world and your life is such a huge piece of understanding of who you are to curate who you want to become. Through it, you’ll be able to identify your shadows or the things you don’t want to be true about you, shedding them slowly. In general, I noticed that the more inner work that I do — the deeper shadow work that I do to understand myself — the better life becomes towards the path of wholeness.

Thank you so much for joining me today, guys. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, please screenshot it and post it to Instagram and tag me, @nickonken. And if you’ve got time, leave me a review of this podcast. I’d love to hear your feedback.

I’ll catch you guys next time — now go live the creative lives you were meant for.

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


“You attract who you are.”
Nick Onken

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • How to deal with your trauma [4:00]
  • What is the difference between medicines and drugs [5:00]
  • How to optimize your health [6:00]
  • How to create healthy habits [6:45]
  • What is intermittent fasting [9:15]
  • How to set a routine for success [13:30]
  • How to optimize your sleep [16:15]
  • How to destress the body [20:00]
  • How to monitor your media intake [26:00]

11 Life Values in Creativity & Life Optimization

  1. Personal development
  2. Health
  3. Movement
  4. Staying in my zone of genius
  5. Space curation and optimization
  6. Sleep optimization for mental health and productivity
  7. Mental health
  8. Community
  9. Hydration
  10. Media intake
  11. Personal creative projects

Links Mentioned:

A FREE email series to create a personal visual brand authentic to who you are.

  • Accelerate your personal brand growth through the Identity Alchemy Method
  • Discover the authentic stories you want to share with your audience
  • Build your personal brand vision and crystallize it with a photoshoot
  • Learn how to ideate and create storytelling visual assets to enhance and up-level your personal brand
  • .. PLUS! You’ll get access my brand building book recs and favorite resources

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